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Email Worse Than Marijuana For Intelligence? 700

Posted by Zonk
from the as-an-evergreen-state-graduate-i'm-unqualified-to-comment dept.
wallykeyster writes "The Guardian is reporting that a recent study at King's College indicates that the average IQ loss of email users was 10 points (or six points more than cannabis users). Details on The Register as well. The Register has a related story about how computers make kids dumb and an apparent "problem-solving deficit disorder" observed in children who use computers. I thought it was television that rotted your brain?"
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Email Worse Than Marijuana For Intelligence?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:36PM (#12319405)
    OMG I bet you lose 20 points for IM
    • by httpamphibio.us (579491) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:39PM (#12319434)
      Don't you mean "OMG i bet u luz 20 pts 4 im?"
    • And if you use annoying abbreviations then you're going to be penalized another 20.

      Bad luck...
    • by passthecrackpipe (598773) * <passthecrackpipeNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:43PM (#12319459)
      My 5 year old son has consistently been called "best in class" and "brilliant student" by his schools' staff - obviously to my pride and joy ;-) - being an IT guy, a gamer, as well as a dad, I have always taken a relaxed attitude towards pc use and gameplay. He never really played anything too challenging or involving - a bit of tuxracer, a bit of sonic, etc. Until a few weeks ago, when some of his schoolfriends started playing some more involving games, and he wanted to keep up. "Bionicles" was duly installed, and away he went.

      We are now 2 weeks later, and my wife and I just - like, 30 mins ago - finished a discussion about how to remove the game from the pc whilst making it look like an accident.... His schoolwork has plummeted, his teachers are really upset - his concentration is just gone, and he isn't interested in playing, arts, crafts, friends or schoolwork. He is a completely different boy, and its really worrying us.

      Make of it what you will, but this gave me a first-hand look at the whole issue, and has me pretty disturbed.
      • This is an interesting point... I can't really relate to how involved kids get wrapped up in computer games. But what you've said makes a whole lot of sense, maybe it didn't affect my peers as much (I was born in 79) because the games we had were significantly less complicated than the games kids play now.
      • by Oliver Defacszio (550941) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:04PM (#12319597)
        Well, you could stop being so damned afraid of your child and remove the stupid game without staging an elaborate lie to cover up what is a perfectly reasonable act. Will he cry and bitch? Possibly, but maybe you won't raise one of those assholes who wants to call a lawyer as soon as someone tries to deny him absolutely anything.

        Sheesh. What in the hell happened to parents just saying "No" instead of treating kids like royalty? This Just In: you can love your offspring while still denying them things, despite what your idiot neighbor claims.

        I am only a child of the 70s, but it's certainly a different, wussier, world out there than I remember.

        • by mriker (571666) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:09PM (#12319631)
          I'm with Oliver. Why you're devising a plan to lie to your child instead of being up front and direct with him is beyond me. My unsolicited advice is simply to teach your child the value of moderation and responsibility; limit his gaming to x hours per day and see how that works out.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:44PM (#12319827)
          I'm with Oliver, but with one addition: tell your son in advance what you are going to do. He will protest and give you a hard time (hold your balls out, man), but he may lose your trust and never forgive you if you unexpectedly destroy the game and his player data.
        • by SunFan (845761) on Friday April 22, 2005 @10:18PM (#12319990)
          you can love your offspring while still denying them things, despite what your idiot neighbor claims.

          Denying children from being overwhelmed by abundance _is_ the responsibility of loving parents. It's the only way for children to develop a perspective on how the real world operates (most people don't get things simply by pouting about it--they have to work for it).
        • MOD parent up! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TapeCutter (624760) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:17PM (#12320280) Journal
          Don't lie to your kid.

          There is no need to remove the game.

          Limit his time on the game, use it as reward and punishment. If he won't respond to you when he is playing pull the plug out of the wall, it will get his immediate attention. Learn to say NO, don't appoligise for saying NO, and follow through. Your kid will have alot more respect for you in the long run.

          I'm a child of the fifties, it may be wussier today but I'm glad bashing your kids has become an unacceptable practice.
        • by Fitzghon (578350) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:57PM (#12320428)
          I think I agree with most of the posts here, especially Oliver's.
          I am currently a high-achieving high school junior. I have liked to play games since I started playing MUDs at age 12. However, my parents never felt bad telling me "no". Because my parents were frank in what activities should be my priorities, I learned both to moderate my gaming and to put school work first.
          I am now getting the chance to watch my parents do the same to my brother. He followed my lead and started gaming in the last year. My parents are still making it clear that school work must come first. He hasn't yet gotten it, but he will.
          Meanwhile, I have friends who were also straight-A, honors students in 9th grade, but who are now B students in regents classes (the lowest level in my school) for six hours of the day, and are Everquest and World of Warcraft grinders for the other sixteen.
          I bet their parents would be happier if they had just said "no".

          Fitzghon
        • Sheesh. What in the hell happened to parents just saying "No" instead of treating kids like royalty?

          People are raised to be perpetual children, and infantilized throughtout their life. Then they knock up their SO, and think that to be an adult, they have to posess a thing called a kid. Rather than realizing its how they raise their kid that determines whether they are adults.

          Being a parent is not about gratification from the love of a child. If you need that, get a dog. Being a parent is not about

      • Do you limit his play time? Or did it evolve quickly into "Where's Timmy? Playing his game?"

        I hate, absolutely _hate_, laying blame on parents, but after working as long as I have in IT at a school district I can see that children are mirrors of their parents' behavior.

        That said, I think what you need to do at this point is take your son, sit him down, and start involving him in reading. Either that or grt him out away from computers for a bit. Anything to keep him from becoming some kid who lets extran

        • by Pxtl (151020) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:13PM (#12319656) Homepage
          I think this is the big thing: educational games are dead, except for stupid multimedia treehouse and barbie games. Puzzle games are no longer things like The Incredible Machine and Lemmings, that actually give you _problem solving_ skills, but twitch-puzzles like Tetris and Chu-Chu Rocket (which are fun by their own right, but not mind-expanding).

          Where's my Island of Dr. Brain?
          • You should have a look at Enigmo [pangeasoft.net] from Pangea. It is originally a Mac game, but available for PC too now.

            Fabulous.

            My daughter is 2 and I'm waiting until she is old enough to play it. I'm also busily writing some Logo routines to draw pretty stuff that she will be able to tweak about whenshe is much older... if she wants to .

        • by Osty (16825) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:18PM (#12319688)

          I hate, absolutely _hate_, laying blame on parents, but after working as long as I have in IT at a school district I can see that children are mirrors of their parents' behavior.

          Why do you hate blaming parents so much? It's their job to raise their kids, and nearly every problem a child has can be directly related to his parents' (lack of) parenting. The original poster is a perfect example. Rather than addressing the problem, he's scheming with his wife to "accidentally" remove the game. What's his son going to learn from this? That it's okay to neglect his responsibilities (even at 5 years old, you have them -- education, playing, being a kid)? That mommy and daddy are real klutzes with the computer, so he should start learning how to hide what he's doing? In this case, it may or may not be the parents' fault that the kid got so wrapped up in the game (it probably is -- they didn't limit his play time, or set down ground rules), but if they go through with the planned course of action they are absolutely responsible for what that teaches the child.

          It's not my job to parent your kids, nor is it the government's job, nor teachers, school administrators, day care employees, etc. It's your kid, you teach him how to be responsible. If you can't handle that, perhaps you should reconsider being a parent. Harsh? Sure. But throwing more tax dollars at poorly parented children isn't going to solve the problem, either. You have to fix the problem, and the problem is usually the parents (or parent, in more and more cases).

      • by michaelhood (667393) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:06PM (#12319616)
        finished a discussion about how to remove the game from the pc whilst making it look like an accident

        Perhaps what will help is insulting the intelligence of your "brilliant student" of a son, by refusing to be straightforward and upfront with him?

        • I recently bought a computer for my 14 year-old son as a birthday gift. I also bought him a router so that his mother (my ex-wife) could configure it appropriately. She still hasn't set it up (she VPNs into a network and often works from home) and she dictates when he can get on the net. I have no problem with her decision since she has to deal with him regularly and I'm not so sure that unrestricted net access is such a good thing for him.

          Don't try to trick your kids, as they will eventually discover the
      • I imagine there is some sort of hardwired instinct at work here. I don't know the Bionicles game, but many games are so complicated now that they require complex thinking skills. There may be some internal switch which says, "I am doing this important task [e.g. hunting], so I should turn off my learning/artistic desire switch in order to focus on the task at hand."

        Even games like Unreal Tournament or Grand Theft Auto require a lot of different brain processes and instincts to "survive." But these games ma
      • by Comatose51 (687974) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:09PM (#12319632) Homepage
        You think that's bad... 2 of my college friends dropped out of college because of Everquest. They spent ALL day playing it and not going to class because they felt that they needed to keep up with their guild members, etc. They were on scholarship, which they lost. Eventually they dropped out of college. It's sad but games can be very addicting, just like a lot of things. Games are designed to be addicting, that's how they make their money. I'm guilty of being an addict as well, but to cycling. The good thing is that when I'm cycling, I'm in so much pain that there's a limit to how much I do it. Computer games, on the other hand, has no such mechanism. I think the pain comes later when the rest of your life suffers as in the case of my friends. So maybe instead of immediate reward and delayed punishment, they should make it delayed reward and immediate punishment, like cycling :-) Then again, a game like that will never sell.
        • by Doctor_Jest (688315) * on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:20PM (#12319701)
          I had college friends who dropped out because of MUDs... couldn't stop playing them, even to the detriment of their schoolwork. It was easy to find them, though. They never left the computer labs..

          Of course all I call that is a lack of discipline. Like this "brilliant" kid. Tell him _NO_ once in a while so he can get used to it when he grows up... and maybe he won't be Everquest (or MUD) fodder. :)

          Spoiled little brats... getting all that they can possibly want, and appreciating none of it.

        • My brother just stopped going to work. Started with "sick days" and then nothing. He was in a semi-management position (12 staff under him) that could have turned into something better.

          He has spent the last 6 years playing computer games, 14 hours a day.

          Now he just got a job in a service station and this is a major leap forward...

          Games...
        • by KingSkippus (799657) on Friday April 22, 2005 @10:29PM (#12320053) Homepage Journal

          Games addictive? I don't buy it. It sounds to me like your friends don't have an addiction problem, they have a self-discipline problem. They want to forego stuff that is important but hard in favor of stuff that is entertaining and easy. It's a simple matter of short-term gratification (another level) versus long-term satisfaction (a degree). That paper can always be written tomorrow, one can always cram for the next exam, but my guildmates need me NOW!

          If I were a betting man, I would wager that if they weren't invovled in Everquest, they would have found some other diversion to consume their time and cause them to drop out of college.

          • by slashdot_commentator (444053) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @01:35AM (#12320792) Journal
            The nature of addiction is the inability to curb the constant urge for self-gratification. Its not PHYSICAL addiction, but psychological addiction is just as debilitating and almost difficult to beat.

            There is not much difference between snorting cocaine and shooting heroin to feel good, than watching TV or playing video games to get those same endorphins. (Or heavy physical activity, for that matter, but I never believed in runner's high.) The only difference with self-medication is that your brain is causing those drug effects to occur, and the body is self-regulating enough not to inflict permanent physical damage or cause severe physical withdrawal.

            The problem is not merely "self-discipline". Its deeper. There is no reward for denying gratification if the long term goal doesn't provide satisfaction. I feel sorry for people that busted their ass to get an engineering degree in the '80's, only to find out afterwords society lied to them about job availability. I feel similarly about pre-meds back in the '80s. (I don't feel sorry for them now, because the writing is on the wall about how relatively crappy the medical profession has become.) The key thing is that society has been feeding everyone a line a bullsh*t about hard work and responsibility will allow you to achieve your happiness (see Fight Club). Don't get me wrong, those traits are required, you'll be better off financially, and you still may end up happy. But its been mythologized, and soon American society will be crashing into reality.

            Midlife crisis occurs when people have plugged themselves into this life pattern because people told them they should live this way, only to realize at that point, it doesn't make them happy or feel fulfilled.

            The problem is a crisis of faith, or purpose. You can't really beat that into people. Most people are pushed into adult behaviors by the desire to conform, or get ego gratification. Once those stop being motivators, there's not really any rationale to get a job better than station attendant if playing video games makes you adequately happy.
        • Everquest, MUDS, etc are all skinner boxes. You eventually get a reward for lots of work and it becomes compulsive. Toss in the social aspect and it can be serious. MUDs had me for a while, hurt grades I guess but not by too much, but it certianly was compulsive, and to the outsider completely and utterly weird.
      • by RootsLINUX (854452) <rootslinux@NospAm.gmail.com> on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:12PM (#12319648) Homepage
        I can totally relate passthecrackpipe. (odd name for such a....umm...mature post). My little brother is 16 now and ever since he was about 11 or 12 he's had a problem with letting computer games controlling his life that has gotten progressively worse and worse. Although he does keep up with his grades (because if they plummet he knows he will lose his computer priveledges until they come back up). Try that with your son, that is remove or severely restrict his gaming time until he gets those grades up. I think that would help solve your problem.

        But it won't end there, let me assure you. Even though my brother keeps his grades up, he spends *all* his free time playing games, reading about games, and pretty much nothing but games. He doesn't go outside. He doesn't socialize with others. He just wants to get online and "pwn pplz with hiz 1337 skillz". (-_-) In the past my parents had been pretty damn lax about this, even though they knew it was a problem, and I insistently pressured them to make him do something else, anything else but play games! I'm afraid that this problem is only going to grow exponentially for each generation as kids start to grow up on games and let them control their lives. As parents, guardians, or whatever you are, I urge you all to remind your younger family members that games are great, but they should try doing other things with their lives. Otherwise, they will never know how many great things they are capable of doing in this world.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:13PM (#12319659)
        Come on people, lets put our heads together and help Mr. Passthecrackpipe be a better parent.
      • I know you have a large amount of replies already, but this hits home since I was a young gamer.

        First of all, 5 years old? I wasn't even in kindergarten at five. I wouldn't worry about a 5 year old's studies so much anyway.

        Well I'll get to the point. Games takeover people's lives because of lack of motivation. Teach him why he needs to do his schoolwork, and ensure the reward is high enough. When I was young and gaming, that was my problem. Take away his video games and he'll be hopping the fence to
      • It's clear who runs the household, and brother, it's not you.

        If he's playing so much that it's affecting him that adversely, a simple solution is to limit his time. My kids play computer games, GameCube and GameBoys too, but their grades have never suffered because of it. Homework comes first. When we decide time's up, time's up. No arguing (maybe some grumbling, but that doesn't change anything). You can let them have fun without being a doormat.

        If in fact he is already playing only a reasonable amo
  • Sex Lowers IQs (Score:4, Informative)

    by fembots (753724) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:36PM (#12319407) Homepage
    The Register's story here [theregister.co.uk]

    The survey didn't mention how subjects were selected, what if some of them are also drug users? And I think people are more willing to reveal their email addiction than their drug adddiction.

    I believe it's more about social-acceptability. If the respondents think that being distracted by emails is not unacceptable (as shown in the article), they will allow themselves to be distracted.

    Next up we will see how sex lower people's IQ. Imaging you're answering questions in front of naked marketing chicks.
  • google (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aerthling (796790) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:38PM (#12319417)
    If anything was going to make you dumber, I would hav thought Google would be to blame. If you can't figure something out, just Google it.
  • by brxndxn (461473) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:38PM (#12319421)
    I'm gonna figure out how to sue someone cause' my email made me fat.

    My neighbor's email made him a pedophile.

    And, my dog's email made him kill himself.

    And a friend's email made him blame everything else in his life for being dumb.
    • Blame god, how can you lose
      Singing such sweet, rhytyhm and blues.
      Strange days, she said to me
      Being in love... don't mean you're free.
      -- David Byrne

      Blame my school & blame my parents
      & the genes that I inherit
      Blame it on my older sister for showing me her dirty pictures
      Blame the TV & the movies
      Blame the lawyers & the juries

      Lock me up & take me home
      I don't wanna be free
      Goin' crazy on my onw
      n It's not where I wanna be
      --David Byrne
    • The Internet made me rob a bank

      The Internet made me kill 27 people

      The Internet made me go out and fuck the neighbor's cat

  • Right angle? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by markild (862998) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:38PM (#12319423)
    I think it would be wise to rethink this.

    Is it the e-mail that makes people dumber, or dumb people that uses e-mail?
    • That is a very good point. Nobody I know of significant intelligent that I know uses email (outside of work). It is slow and a poor form of digital communication.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:39PM (#12319427)
    What effects does that have on my memory and intelligence?

    *lights one up*

    Aww, who cares
  • by dmuth (14143) <doug,muth+slashdot&gmail,com> on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:39PM (#12319428) Homepage Journal
    I have no idea what TFA means by that.

    I can easily stay focus--ooh, Amazon shipped my book order!
  • I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whackco (599646) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:39PM (#12319429) Journal
    I think these studies are purposely focused on certain areas where they know the outcome of their own study.

    Like the difference in examining crime in a low income area vs a high income area. [ / suspicion ]
  • ah.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kaisum (850834) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:39PM (#12319430)
    "pass the pop3...dude.." "Police arrested a local ISP for running an SMTP" "That's one less scum off the face of this earth, we can't have these kids propigating this brain-numbing garbage," says Officer Joe Johnson, "Not in my town"
  • by MrP- (45616) <rob@@@elitemrp...net> on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:39PM (#12319437) Homepage
    Make email illegal (then there will be no more spam!)

    And legalize pot... that way i wont even care that i dont have email anymore
    • by citking (551907)
      Make email illegal (then there will be no more spam!) And legalize pot... that way i wont even care that i dont have email anymore
      Damn, and I thought the spammers were the ones on drugs. Or maybe that's the Enzyte talking...
    • Re:The Solution (Score:5, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:20PM (#12320298)
      >And legalize pot

      Not to mention, the IQ drop is a government myth. [erowid.org] The cherry-picked studies which show this have some seriously flawed methodology like graduate students tested against off-the-street stoners. If you can keep producing results that show marijuana in a negative light you can some nice grants from the government.
  • Not likely (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As someone who has dealt with diagnosing and fixing a lot of computer related problems caused by relatives who don't have a clue and by my own tinkering, I'd say that PCs sharpen your problem solving skills. Or maybe they're unrelated, and PC skills are just a reflection of one's problem solving abilities.

    I once read that using a computer is a test of one's ability to follow directions. Probably true, but I do also think that maintaining a computer in an environment of changing hardware and software is a t
    • PCs do sharpen the problem solving skills of those who work with their innards, but they offer *plenty* of opportunity for distractions (costing lots of focus ability).

      The challenge, when in front of a computer screen, is to avoid being constantly distracted.
  • Every day... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:41PM (#12319444)
    Every day computers make people easier to use!

    Sure the internet can make you more intelligent if you spend your time reading Wolfram Mathworld, Scientific American, Project Gutenburg texts, and Wikipedia...but who does? Is the back-forth banter here really intelligent? Seems more like smalltalk. The bloggers are just writing about each other. Everquest is pulling people away from reality entirely.

    Maybe the library isn't such a bad idea after all.

    • by google (125927)
      TV's been doing the set-up work for years... gently prepping us... slowly inundating us with live audiences, then laugh tracks, then nothing but our own morbid sense of humor... Even the History channel seems to have lost it's verve in the face of such enlightening TV as Who's Your Daddy?

      Oh oh oh -- did anyone see that Seinfeld re-run last night? When Kramer had the oil tanker inven-- Hey, email fram Nambikstan... all caps, must be important!
    • Sure the internet can make you more intelligent if you spend your time reading Wolfram Mathworld, Scientific American, Project Gutenburg texts, and Wikipedia...but who does?

      SciAm I skip because it costs money. But I read at least one Wikipedia article per day, if not a dozen to research an informative answer for a Slashdot comment.

  • by Travoltus (110240) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:41PM (#12319446) Journal
    that allowing computers to constantly shift your focus from one thing to the other, impairs your long term ability to focus on one thing and imprint it on your brain in serious depth.

    My prescribed solution (IMHO)? A weekend per month secluded from all electronica, preferably with someone else, along with non-technical books, and one or more chess sets. Or better yet, a program once a month that provides a rewarding experience that reinforces one's ability to just **focus**.
    • by jesterzog (189797) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:56PM (#12320422) Homepage Journal

      that allowing computers to constantly shift your focus from one thing to the other, impairs your long term ability to focus on one thing and imprint it on your brain in serious depth.

      I haven't read the study beyond the linked article, but personally I suspect that the whole problem extends far beyond email use.

      Western society is built on distractions, and on interrupting people from what they're doing, much of which is to do with commercialism. For instance:

      • Television, which the vast majority of people base their lives around, interrupts everything for commercial breaks every few minutes. People are being asked to concentrate for short spurts of time and then switch off or do something else.
      • The standard formula for popular music is to produce songs that last about three to five minutes. Commercial radio often plays one song at a time, and then encourages listeners to switch modes by playing commercials. Some albums are still designed so that the entire album is an experience to listen to, but with others the disjointed focus of the music still completely changes between tracks. Compare this with older forms of classical music, for instance, for which it's common for some movements and symphonies to last tens of minutes or hours.
      • Modern communication devices such as telephones, especially mobile phones, encourage people to be on demand all the time to deal with new problems and tasks immediately and as they arise. Technologies such as SMS encourage people to divide their attention even further, having a conversation in many very short messages and often when also doing something else. Compare this with some time ago when it would often be common to be out of contact except for particular times. (eg. Reading snail mail, or arriving at the office.)
      • Personal computers, at least the ones that most people owned, used to be very bad at multitasking. This made it necessary to only run one main application at a time. It wasn't possible to use a computer for word processing at the same time as spreadsheeting, without fully closing down one and starting the other. Today, typical workstations allow people to easily and frequently switch between many tasks at once.

      It doesn't surprise me at all that people's attitudes to doing things have been changing quite dramatically, and it seems quite feasible that the effects of this on people's wellbeing could be negative. Emails popping up and being addressed are just an extension of everything else that's been happening with advances in technology and societial attitudes.

      I would love a tool, similar to the one that you suggest, that encourages being able to focus on things. I'm not entirely sure how it could be guaranteed to work, though. To me, many of the possible problems seem to be embedded quite heavily in the way that society now works.

      Meanwhile, I think I'll try forcing myself to concentrate more by shutting down lots of other things while I'm browsing slashdot. It's a shame they're so easy to start up again.

  • No: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:41PM (#12319448) Journal
    Slashdot. Seriously its worse than email, at least email has an actual productive purpose, with slashdot we just waste our time posting things that will have no actual benefit - look im doing it now!
  • Okay, somebody needs to do a posting series where the more they post, the stupider they be typin CAUSE ALL THIS eMAILING MAKE ME STOOPID AND SLASHDOT IS KEW COZ I GOT KARMA NAD MAKE FIRST POOPY^H^H^HPOST!
  • Nice headline, provocative article, but no information on how this "survey of befuddled volunteers." was conducted, or how it came to its conclusions.

    I'm sure someone will post the original survey. When they do, they'll probably get mod points. (Hint, hint.)
  • Only temporary (Score:2, Informative)

    by tansey (238786)
    According to the article, they only "temporarily" lost IQ points.

    So you'll be fine as soon as you stop using the internet...
    • Re:Only temporary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rightcoast (807751)
      I would love to ask these quacks how you temporarily lose IQ points. That is absurd.

      This has got to be some study steered toward a desired result. Either the scientists or the funding organization wanted this result, so they made sure it came to this conclusion.
  • by dword (735428)
    This is only the result of using M$ applications and playing games in stead of studying/reading.
    No big deal... As it was previously stated, "it just works!" and nobody cares how and why. On the other hand, if you don't spend too much time playing, what else can you do but work/study ? When I say games, I don't mean mindgames, I mean something like violent RPG's / Shoot'em up.

    Ok... So I'm blaming it on Microsoft... this is the only corporate name I can think of at this time but you get the point: Apps for
  • by psoriac (81188) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:47PM (#12319487)
    How in the world do you correct for all other factors and then go on to claim that computers make kids less intelligent than having 500 books in the household? Adding together all my fiction, reference, and technical books I barely break the 200 count. Aren't they really saying that kids in more affluent homes are smarter? And are they factoring in easy access to public libraries?
    • Adding together all my fiction, reference, and technical books I barely break the 200 count.

      Go to flea markets, yard sales, and library sales (where they get rid of old books that are worn or no longer popular).

      Our older two share a bedroom, and they have over 500 books just on their own shelves. I think the oldest has probably read 90% of them. My wife and I have at least 2000 on shelves around the house.

      And yes, we let them play computer games. The oldest will play Zoombinis for a while, but th

      • I avoid tv as well. I watch maybe 6 hours a month, all of that from DVDs. My problem with purchasing books (aside from reference material) is that after reading it once, I remember it for a long time. At most I'll reread it maybe a year or two later, after I've forgotten most of the details. As a result my shelves are full of only the books I really, really enjoyed.

        I also grew up with the habit of visiting the local public library for most of my book needs; I just can't justify paying money for something m
  • "Drop" in IQ?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CellBlock (856082)
    I always thought IQ was a relatively static thing. Obviously, a person's intelligence changes over time, but IQ is adjusted for age. A 10-point drop in IQ means the person would have actually lost some kind of mental capacity.

    I don't buy that at all.

    Most likely, the added distractions in these people's lives just made the test more difficult for them. I highly doubt that these people actually became dumber. As someone mentioned earlier, this is most likely just some scientist making his data fit h
  • OMG!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aneurysm (680045) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:54PM (#12319536)
    I MEEN OMG!!! DOES U LOSE ALL THOOSE QI PTS 4 EMALING LIKE THIS!?!?!?!?!?! Seriously, If you are going to use e-mail like a retard then it probably does make you stupid. For some reason people seem to think that because it's an e-mail grammar, punctuation and spelling can go out of the window. It's just like text messaging short hand. I try where possible to write e-mails, text messages and instant messages with reasonable grammar, spelling and punctuation. It takes a little more time, but you soon learn to type faster and more accurately because of it. There was a case in Britain not long ago where a student wrote an entire essay for their GCSE's (exams for 16yr olds) in txt message short hand. I believe that the sudden proliferation of new means of communication (txt messages, e-mails and IMs) mean that children learn txt short hand before learning grammar or typing skills. This means that they end up with some ugly short hand with no spelling required (since anything in the ballpark will let the reader know roughly what you're trying to say) and no grammar skills. Since most of them will be using txts and IMs before actually studying them in class it's no wonder that the fail to learn the correct way of doing things.
  • by Combuchan (123208) * <sean@[ ]is.net ['emv' in gap]> on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:03PM (#12319587) Homepage
    is revolting. If you're naturally lazy or stupid and you use the computer, play video games, email obsessively, or smoke pot to excess, yes, you're going to get caught in it and probably get stupider over time.

    But if you're naturally smart or motivated, the opposite is true. I've known people that smoked pot all through college and graduated early with amazing grades. I'm sure amongst the people you know, you can think of the video game addict that gets all A's and the video game addict that flunked out years ago.

    These things are just enablers. That's why, especially with pot, you should be of sound mind and body before you turn the machine on or pack the pipe. It makes the difference between expanding your mind and escaping from it.
  • by stuffduff (681819) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:03PM (#12319593) Journal
    When computers arrived on the scene, everyone noticed them for their potential, just as they had for radio and television, and just as they did for the internet.

    It's not that the potential isn't there for any of the technologies, but humanity has a governor, just like the Briggs & Stratton on my old go kart. It's called the 'Lowest Common Denominator.' One individual can reason in a unique manner that can advance the frontiers of human understanding, while a mob is well known for its inability to reason except in the most primative manner. The more connected we become, the more LCD we are tied to. The technology is inevitably bent to the will of the masses, regardless of the vision of the few.

    Properly used, a search engine has the potential to function as an intelligence amplifier, but that way requires hard work and a singular vision which reaches outside the common vision. It's so much easier to just kick back and go with the flow. But each of the things that really changed the world were brought about through the individual thoughts of one person, who eventually shared it with a small group. For lack of a better term, an outsider, separate from the common environment; but somehow capable of seeing something that no one else was able to see and to carry through and realize.

    So, for the vast majority of those out there who unconsciously embrace mediocrity, being dumber is just another wave of the cool. While those of us who seek truth on a Friday night, discuss the realization of the possible. They're just a tool. They can help the smart get smarter, and the dumb to get dumber. Depending on what you were after in the first place. It is all a matter of choice.

  • by pbjones (315127) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:06PM (#12319610)
    we loose the skill to do it manually. the same is said about calculators, and power saws.
  • by pg110404 (836120) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:07PM (#12319621)
    I guess that explains why I walk around the house in the morning and feel like I'm in a permanant vegetative state.

    Seriously though, when I graduated from high school, just a mere 18 years ago, we had no such things as cellphones, and gadgets and doohickies and whatnot to distract us from the all important task of learning.

    As for computers, too much emphasis is placed nowadays on being able to 'use it' and not enough on why one needs to use it in the first place. Until probably as recently as 10 years ago, there were still books and libraries to go to, but now everything is geared toward breeding a generation that can't be bothered with actually working for the answer, and education in 2005 requires internet access in the home. You need to do a book report on subject whatever, google-search, read up on it, keep doing a search until you find someone who has already solved the problem for you, then do the report. That to some is learning. There is a distinctive difference between a 'college' and a 'university' and one teaches you 'things', the other teaches you how to 'think'. When it comes to learning, it's essential to reinvent the wheel, again and again, and again until reinventing the wheel is as natural as breathing. The only way to make smarter people is to make them think for themselves. By getting someone to crack open a book and do some reading on the facts and only the facts, it gives the reader a chance to think out the problem in their mind rather than accept whatever opinion on the subject they happen to come across.

    I look at the university entrance exam my dad wrote when he applied and in all honesty it's so far over my head, I have no idea what the question is asking. There seems to have been a pretty serious slip in mental discipline over the decades, computers and TV are only adding to the problem.

    Also, I challenge anyone to find a child (under 18) who will primarily use the computer for actual work (study) as opposed to playing games, instant messaging and other such activities. The life of today's teen hardly requires a storm of neural activity anymore, so it's no big surprise to me that there's an apparent "problem-solving deficit disorder" observed in children who use computers.
  • by gtshafted (580114) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:14PM (#12319665)
    I have trouble buying this.
    I think a more important question is whether IQ and academic grades are a true measure of intelligence in general.
    Moreover just because the people in the study used email, it does not mean that email is the cause for their drop in IQ score.
    • by UpnAtom (551727) on Friday April 22, 2005 @10:16PM (#12319983) Homepage
      Intelligence has no specific definition. Some people might say that being able to make people laugh is a form of intelligence, for example.

      IQ measures a very narrow set of skills which aren't massively useful in real life. You'll get much further in life by being influential in social situations, or by being able to make good decisions for example.

      It seems that the temporary loss of IQ test skill was purely due to the questions being popped up at random intervals.
  • by Tenebrious1 (530949) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:39PM (#12319801) Homepage
    Now my inbox is going to be filled by spam with subjects like "Raise your IQ 10 points!"

  • by b17bmbr (608864) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:50PM (#12319852)
    I wrote my MA thesis ( link ) [mandelinople.com] on a related subject, computers and writing. Though more geeky than most teachers, I firmly believe that computers have no place in the education curriculum. Now, as part of a technology core, or school-to-career, or electives, fine. But absolutely nowhere near a core classes. Okay, a little bias here because I teach history as well as programming, but students need to read books and learn to write the old fashion way. I am not surprised by the results, only that it is taking this ling for some common sense to creep back into the thinking. Considering how much money and effort from all sectors of the industry (including /.'s beloved Apple. disclaimer: I own two ibooks.) has been pumped into education, it should not shock anyone the level of beholdeness to technology that permeates our schools. For far too many teachers, a project is now powerpoint, and the lab is a week off. I really do want to scream.
  • oh my (Score:5, Funny)

    by St. Arbirix (218306) <matthew,townsend&gmail,com> on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:54PM (#12319872) Homepage Journal
    Who else is feeling bad for the old people in Korea?
  • Geeze (Score:3, Interesting)

    by beforewisdom (729725) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:20PM (#12320300)
    I wonder what happens to pot smokers who also use the internet and watch tv.
  • by pavera (320634) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:47PM (#12320400) Homepage Journal
    I will forever be greatful to 2 excellent high school teachers I had (in public school no less!), 1 in math (pre-calc, calc) and 1 in chemistry (chem1 and chem2AP). They wouldn't let us use calculators for anything, not on tests, not on homework, no where. This forced us to get good at doing all sorts of mathmatics in our heads, and to come up with creative solutions if we couldn't remember the specific function/equation to apply to a problem.

    I often times would have to work around some equation I couldn't remember and basically derive the equation from smaller building blocks. This gave me a much greater understanding of the actual processes going on. This kind of problem solving/understanding completely disappears when children can use calculators to simply "get the right answer", but the important thing in the maths and sciences is not necessarily the answer, but the process of getting there, and the ability to problem solve, which has completely disappeared in US middle and high schools.

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